A Falcon Sighting

A flock of Starlings flit among the boughs of a large tree, that had lost all of its leaves, their chirping loud and incessant. Suddenly there was silence and in a moment they all flew away, together, as though they had received a message that they each clearly understood. My viewfinder settled on what had disturbed them. A falcon now sat on a branch, in that large tree.

Such was the scenario for this series of photos, shot on Monday. I was so excited to see the Peregrine Falcon, and to be lucky enough to already have my camera pointed in the exact spot that he (she?) would briefly stop.

These raptors are the fastest moving creature on earth, reaching speeds of 220 miles an hour. They are also quite rare, and in all my searching of treetops, this is the first one I have ever seen.

In fact, in the 1960s they were included on the endangered species list, as the use of pesticides (mainly DDT) resulted in killing them off almost completely. Because they are carnivores and high on the food chain, the cumulative effects of the chemical consumed by the smallest animal, and then by larger animals, and so on, meant that the concentration of the poison was very high in the food eaten by Falcons. The effect was that the shells of their eggs became very thin. So thin that they were unable to incubate the eggs that were laid because they would break under the mother’s weight.

The use of DDT was banned in the early 70s and the species has since experienced some recovery and is no longer considered endangered.

In downtown Toronto, there are several known breeding pairs, and in Canada there is a whole registered charity bent on protecting and assisting in the recovery of the species here, The Canadian Peregrine Foundation. They even have live-cam coverage of some of the nests. No doubt, they could tell me exactly who this particular Falcon was, but I don’t need to know. Simply seeing it was enough for me.

This last shot is grainy because I blew it up so we can have a good look …

Thank you kindly for visiting. Hoping you’re having a great Thursday.

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